Stretching boundaries with Holy Yoga

March 1, 2014 in Featured Rotator, Guest Blog by Kathy K. Martin

285824_t607BY KATHY L. MARTIN

Meet Jesus on your yoga mat.

That is the mission of Holy Yoga, a Christ-centered practice of yoga that came to Memphis at Independent Presbyterian Church almost two years ago.

This practice goes beyond the basics of traditional yoga, which focuses on physical postures, breathing and meditation toward unity with self, to physical worship of Jesus Christ and unity with Him, regardless of denomination.

Lucy Forrester, who has taken

Christian yoga classes for about five years, said that she was initially apprehensive. “I was very skeptical of the practice of yoga, mainly based upon plain ignorance and my own assumptions,” she said.

However, after trying a class, she was hooked.

Dealing with some muscular and flexibility issues, Forrester, who is also a five-year breast cancer survivor, said Holy Yoga helped her heal both emotionally and physically.

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American Guild of Organists is 100

February 3, 2014 in Featured Rotator, Guest Blog by Kathy K. Martin

Organists, accustomed to being heard but not seen, note guild’s centennial


These musicians often go unnoticed as they perform behind the scenes without taking a bow or receiving a standing ovation. However, most Memphis-area church organists and choir directors prefer it this way and play for an audience of one.


“We perform for the glory of God; that’s our mission,” said Jane Scharding Smedley, longtime organist and choral director of St. Peter Catholic Church and historian for the Memphis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.


722191_t607Most of the guild’s members are organists. Others serve as choir directors, professors and clergy, or they’re just passionate about the instrument. While the guild’s motto is Soli Deo Gloria (“Glory to God alone”), the nondenominational guild also serves to enrich lives through organ and choir music.


The local chapter is celebrating the organization’s centennial this year with concerts that took four years to plan.


The events, beginning last September and continuing with a concert every month until April, feature national and international artists as well as Memphis musicians. The next concert features the Christ Church Chamber Choir, Rhodes College choral ensembles and Dr. Jane Gamble on organ at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Wilson Chapel at Christ United Methodist Church.

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Super Bowl players and prayers

February 3, 2014 in Featured Rotator, Guest Blog by Brown-Burnett

In 2007, one hundred million people saw Hunter Smith have a great day in the Miami rain.

His punts for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl pinned the Chicago Bears deep inside their own territory several times, helping the Colts win their first NFL championship in 36 years.

763793_t607“I had a really good day, but I know I didn’t do it by myself,” he said from his home in Indiana. “We were fortunate to be able to perform well on the biggest stage in the world.”

Smith and his fellow Colts, like so many members of so many other athletic teams, had girded themselves with prayer. They held a chapel service the night before the game and prayed together as a team just before kickoff.

“I think all teams have prayer as part of their routine,” Smith said. “I know the Bears did and I’ve never been on a team that didn’t.”

Of course, players such as Smith also prayed during the game.

“I didn’t specifically pray to put a punt inside the 5-yard-line,” he said. “But I remembered ‘Ye have not because ye ask not’, so I asked that I play the best I can play, as if the only person watching the game was the Lord.”

Smith, who retired from professional football in 2010, cites his former Colts’ coach, Tony Dungy, as being the main spiritual influence in his football life. Dungy was a head coach in the NFL for 13 years and coached that Colts’ Super Bowl-winning team. Dungy says spirituality permeates NFL locker rooms.

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Saving a neighborhood one Monday at a time

January 27, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters

Linda Headley was having lunch at her usual spot last Monday. It’s a soulful place in the basement of a 100-year-old church at the corner of Summer and Highland.

She was joined by other regulars — her friend Donna, John, the manager of the Walgreens across the street, Ponytail Bob, Pam the artist, and Pastor Rich.

“I was in the insurance business for 30 years,” Headley explained as her fellow diners dished up platters of barbecue, slaw and bread for about 75 other regular guests.

“When I retired, I needed something to do. First I volunteered in my church’s library but I got kind of bored. Not many people there. Plenty of people here.”

Here is the basement of Highland Heights United Methodist Church, which hosts a weekly lunch for its neighbors. They call it Table Talk.

It’s one of several neighborhood ministries the church hosts every Monday. There’s also a Bible study, a community art class, and a food pantry.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” said Headley, a member of Christ United Methodist Church.

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Pastor Orr’s 3-mile, 7-generation journey

January 27, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters

orrThe view from Pastor Bartholomew Orr’s church office doesn’t seem that interesting at first.

A narrow window looks southward across State Line Road down Swinnea Road. There’s an open field and a parking lot on the right, two relatively new and nondescript brick buildings on the left.

DeSoto County’s commercial growth is just beginning to reach this area about a mile east of I-55 near the border with Memphis.

Orr sees the encroaching sprawl, but his view down Swinnea Road extends much further.

“I’ve spent nearly my entire life on one end of this road or the other,” said Orr, who this weekend is celebrating his 25th year as pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven.

Brown Baptist, organized in the 1880s by former slaves, is one of the largest and fastest growing congregations around.

There were about 75 people at Orr’s first service as pastor in January 1989. This Sunday, more than 5,000 are expected to attend services at 8, 10 and 11:45 a.m.

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Grocer’s tragic death doesn’t diminish life’s work

January 22, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters


(Editor’s note: On 1/24, the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the cause of David Carter’s death was suicide).

David Carter, the local grocer who was killed during a robbery early Monday, was a proud father and grandfather and a prayerful man with a playful sense of humor.

He frequently shared loving notes to his children as well as Scripture verses and inspirational quotes on his Facebook timeline. He also posted a silly photo that showed “how baby carrots are made.”

Over the past two days, Carter’s Facebook page has become a digital Wailing Wall, a virtual visitation where the community is gathering to express very real grief and support.

Each of his children posted recent photographs of them with their dad, images that serve as both loving tributes and heartbreaking laments.

Extended family and friends as well as employees and customers are sharing sad and inspiring thoughts and prayers on Carter’s personal page as well as Easy Way’s fan page.

“I am very fortunate I hugged David Carter Saturday night and only wish I could once more,” wrote his cousin, Laurie Honeycutt Musselwhite.

“There was not a better person or family man than David. He worked hard and earned everything he had. Thank you, David, for being a positive influence on many people,” Brad Jenkins posted.

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Neighbors deliver gift to loyal newspaper carrier

January 22, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters


The early morning sight of Jeff Cain’s reddish Eddie Bauer edition Ford F-150 pickup truck has become as reliable as the sunrise in parts of Midtown.

“He’s still pushing that thing around,” said his uncle, Stennis Cain. “I don’t know how.”

Pure determination, I’d say.

Jeff Cain has been delivering newspapers to Midtown’s 38104 ZIP code since he was 11 years old. That was in 1965.

Back then, he’d help his uncle, or his father, the late J.N. Cain, walk the route. They both delivered papers for The Commercial Appeal for more than 50 years. You could say Jeff inherited his route.

Early each and every morning, while most of us are sound asleep, or wishing we were, Jeff Cain is on his way to Whitehaven to pick up hundreds of newspapers.

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Another view of Duck Dynasty family values

January 12, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters

ducI’ve never watched a single episode of a Reality TV show. Real reality seems much more interesting and entertaining.

So when I started getting emails from this and that faith-based group condemning or defending a showed called Duck Dynasty, I got curious.

Google led me to the Robertson family and their Duck Commander enterprise in West Monroe, La. Turns out, they not only have their own TV show and retail store, they also have their own DVDs, books and board games.

There’s even a Duck Commander Devotional.

When did this happen?

Anyway, I read that the show’s cable network, A&E (Adam & Eve?), suspended family patriarch Phil Robertson for remarks he made about homosexuality and the Bible that appear in this month’s issue of GQ (God’s Quarterly?) magazine.

I could get into it, but I can’t imagine why anyone outside the Robertson family would care about Papaw Phil’s personal theology. We all read our own Bibles.

In my Googling, I noticed that Phil’s son and daughter-in-law, Willie and Korie Robertson, are going to be talking about “Faith, Family and Ducks” at a Jan. 18 event in Little Rock.

The event is a fundraiser for Spark of Life Grief Recovery Retreats, founded by David and Debbie Mathews of Searcy, Ark. They started the organization after their first grandchild died seven minuets after he was born in 2006.

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Bum hips won’t stop heart doc’s mission

January 4, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters

0101_malo_david_col__t607Twenty years of standing in operating rooms and saving thousands of heart-defected children around the world have caught up with Dr. William Novick.

The pediatric heart surgeon and founder the Memphis-based International Children’s Heart Foundation will start the new year on the operating table. He’s having his left hip replaced on Thursday, his right hip six weeks from now.

“Occupational hazard,” said Novick, who will turn 60 later this month. “It started with the right ankle, which I waited too long to fix, which led to left hip, then the right hip. I’m not the most patient patient.”

Or surgeon. Between operations, Novick is planning to lead a surgical trip to Belarus, one of 26 missions scheduled for the first half of this year.

Later this year, Novick plans for the first time to take a team to Haiti, which would become the 34th country involved in his ever-expanding medical mission to repair the world one heart defect at a time.

The man affectionately known as “Dr. No” has a hard time saying no to any of the 6 million Third World children in need of lifesaving heart surgery.

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A widow’s mite, a mother’s love

January 4, 2014 in Faith Matters, Featured Rotator by David Waters

wraySince she became a widow 28 years ago, Celeste Wray has spent a lot of time standing on street corners, a lot of time helping people die, and a lot of time in prison.

“My craziness,” she calls it as she sits inside the home she and her husband, Harmon, built on Coro Lake south of Downtown Memphis in 1958. “The only thing I really wanted was to be a wife and a mother. So I don’t know where I developed all my craziness.”

Wray celebrated her 92nd birthday last month. She was a wife for 40 years until a brain tumor took her husband, Harmon Wray Sr., in 1985. She was a mother for 60 years until a massive brain hemorrhage took her son, Harmon Wray Jr., in 2007.

“The night after my husband died, I remember walking the floor and crying and thinking, what am I going to do with all my time and all my energy and all the love that’s inside me? What am I going to do with it?”

Give it away, she decided.

“And then it came to me that the only way you can turn a negative into a positive is by doing something for other people. So I got busy doing something five days a week just like I was going to work. I was busy every day and that’s probably the only reason I did as well as I did.”

For nearly three decades, this widow has devoted her mite to helping strangers.

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